In re Interest of Emerald C. et al.

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In re Interest of Emerald C. et al.

Caselaw No.
19 Neb. App. 608
Filed on
Tuesday, March 20, 2012

SUMMARY: Termination of the father’s parental rights was proper where the father consistently failed to engage in services to improve the condition of his home and was unable to put himself in a position to parent his children. The father was not prejudiced from his GAL being excluded from participating because there was no showing of what specific evidence would have been brought forth.

The children were removed from the home of the father, Richard, on August 15, 2008, on allegations of a dirty home, improper supervision and parental drug use. At some point, a GAL was appointed for Richard. After adjudication and disposition, Richard was ordered to complete a number of services to address these issues. In February 2009, the older children were returned to Richard’s home but were removed shortly thereafter. Richard participated in family support services to help with maintaining his home but the service was eventually discontinued based on Richard’s failure to keep the home livable. Richard and the mother had domestic violence issues in the past and Richard continued to have these issues even after therapy and domestic violence classes. He also tested positive on several occasions for un-prescribed morphine and was in jail around January 2011 for distribution of drugs. For a time, Richard did consistently attend visits and therapy with the children but the visits were gradually reduced due to the young children’s needs not being met and frequent cancellations by Richard. In May 2010, an amended motion to terminate parental rights was filed and trial was held in November 2010 and January 2011. The court did not allow Richard’s GAL to participate. After trial, the court terminated Richard’s parental rights. The father and the father’s GAL appealed.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the termination. After finding the children were out of home more than 15 of the past 22 months, it noted that Richard never made his home safe and sanitary for the children despite being offered numerous services. The Court of Appeals acknowledged Richard’s participation in therapy with the children but noted his ongoing domestic violence issues and positive drug testing. It also noted that although Richard had medical issues and associated hospitalization, several missed visits could not be explained by those issues. Finally, the Court of Appeals reviewed In re Interest of D.S. and T.S., supra, 236 Neb. 413, 461 N.W.2d 415 (1990), which found that a GAL appointed for a parent had a right to participate in a TPR trial, and agreed that this holding would apply to the current case. But it found that Richard’s GAL did not show how the prohibition of his participation prejudiced Richard because he did not identify the specific evidence that would have been admitted or excluded.